On a sunny morning yesterday, the SNCT team began the preparations needed to steer a pair of historic working boats, donated in Trust by Roger White, back to Norbury Junction on the Shropshire Union Canal.
Before the pair could set out on their first proper journey for more than a decade, one of the first jobs was to return a strengthened Elum to the butty after reinforcing steel was fitted at Norbury Wharf.
The boats are destined to play a key role in the plans to restore the Shrewsbury and Newport canals, although, sadly, they will no longer become the stars of the Trust’s annual Norbury Canal Festival, which has had to be cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The vessels are currently travelling from their mooring for many years on the Grand Union Canal at Weedon in Northamptonshire, initially along the North Oxford and Coventry Canals and then, in a week or two, back through Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Trustees David Ray, Stephen Kearney and Phil Jones were joined by Julia Olsen. This team first had to clear out the back cabins and even set up a small tent in the hold to provide sleeping quarters on the two day journey.
Another job was to strip rotten cloths covering the holds of the two boats, making them easier to handle as they are steered northward as a working pair.
The process revealed rotting gunwales and a distinctly fragile wooden cabin on the motor boat, Bainton.
After removing the spiders and the worst of the dust and dirt, the “Famous Four” were ready to fit the elum, turn the boats round and moor outside a nearby pub – ready for an early start this morning. Please click on the link below to see some footage of the start of this epic journey. Many thanks to Peter Underwood for this historic record.

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